Extension - Why Isn't My LEG Getting HIGHER?
The Elusive Extension,
Those beautiful lines crafted by a dancer’s entire body working in perfect harmony, creating a show-stopping moment of etheric expression.
I’m not exaggerating when I say, almost every dancer (male and female alike) seeks to find a way to get those gorgeous lines.
But, reaching your highest height, whether it’s front, side, back, or a dramatic penché is not just about how high your working leg is.
There is so much more going on in an extension than simply how high the leg is.
5 things you can do to improve your extensions:
The Supporting Side.
If only the supporting side got more time in the spotlight! Your supporting side should be one of your main priorities when working towards higher extensions. It is your base. It is what gives you control. It is the root by which you ground yourself to the earth so your working side can be free to go wherever you want it.
Truly, it is the star of the show. Without a strong supporting side, you will never find the stability or the balance necessary to lengthen your working side to its maximum. But, it’s not just the leg of the supporting side that needs attention. It’s also your hips, your ankles, your core in its entirety.
Everything should be lifting up together, from your head to your toes. An extension never ends, it is a constant lifting, an implied continuation of movement beyond the step itself.
Yes, flexibility plays a role in every extension imaginable.
But, it is not the only determining factor, as we’ve seen in our number 1. Flexibility is important for both your supporting side and your working side. Always work to stretch and strengthen equally- if you are going to strengthen one side, you also need to work the opposite side.
Gaining flexibility is a slow controlled process. And, it is an area every dancer continues to work on throughout their journey in ballet.
Do not get discouraged if you don’t see results in one week, it’s going to take time- weeks, months, years even. And, it is paramount that you always work safely and consistently.
Here it is again, that pesky word- Patience.
Like it or not, patience is key. Don’t rush yourself, don’t push your body too far before you’re ready. Be Patient. And, try not to compare your progress to others’. It’s not going to be the same, and it’s not supposed to be.
Tell yourself, to keep at it- don’t give up. But, above all, be patient. Nothing happens overnight. There is no quick fix- get over it. You will improve, but don’t expect a “one size fits all” experience.
The human body simply isn’t made to change at breakneck speed. Be patient, you’ll get there.
The body you were born with is capable of beautiful things.
But, you’re also limited to some degree because of your own anatomy. Your skeletal structure, the natural length of your tendons, your own genetic makeup is a major factor in determining your strengths and your limitations.
If you are ever going to express the deepest joy dancing can bring, you must accept and embrace your body the way it is. I never had a 180-degree turnout, I never had long-legged, foot behind my head extensions.
And, you know what? I don’t care.
I have other strengths that I learned to focus on, and I showcased those strengths in other ways. Work with what you’ve got. Always remember, your limitations are the very things that will give rise to your signature style.
If you don’t have the physical framework for extensions á la Sylvie Guillem, that’s OK! Tease out your strengths, work with the body you were blessed with. If I had never accepted my limitations, I never would have found my own style. And, that is what you should be after.
Be consistent in your efforts. Work with intention, but be forgiving of yourself when you’re having an “off” day. Doing even a little something every day adds up fast. Have faith in yourself, have faith in your dreams. You will get there. And, I am here to help!
Still Need Help?
If you find yourself feeling short of inspiration, remember you can download the Get Ballerina Fit workout. What helps you the most when fatigue sets in? Let me know in the comments below, so we can all learn from each other. Let’s keep dancing!
Of course I’m here for you, so if you have any question or want to start a conversation, feel free to leave a message below or send me an email to email@example.com :)